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Symptom Distress: Implementation of Palliative Care Guidelines to Improve Pain, Fatigue, and Anxiety in Patients With Advanced Cancer

Niki Koesel
Christine Tocchi
Larry Burke
Tracey Yap
CJON 2019, 1-7 DOI:
Background: The integration of palliative care into standard oncology care is supported by research to improve quality of life and symptom distress in patients with advanced cancer. In 2016, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) released practice guidelines for oncology palliative care that emphasized interprofessional assessment and management of this patient population and caregivers.
Objectives: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of clinical guidelines on symptom distress in patients with advanced cancer.
Methods: In two oncology palliative care clinics, the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) scores for pain, fatigue, and anxiety were measured prior to consultation (T1) and at two subsequent visits (T2 and T3). A standardized documentation template was used to measure fidelity for key guideline components.
Findings: Pain, fatigue, and anxiety ESAS scores were statistically lower from T1 to T3. The frequency of patients having a decrease of 2 or more points for all symptoms increased compared to baseline data. There was 100% compliance to the documentation template during the guideline implementation.